Of Mice and Ministers

by on March 7th, 2015
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The good Reverend Jonathan Zanzaret sat alone on the floor of his empty church. He looked around at the empty seats. Nobody ever came anymore. Nobody believed anymore.

He put his face in his hands and sobbed. Then he ran his hands through his thinning salt-and-pepper hair. Ten years ago, business was booming. “Revival” he called it then. Now he wondered if it hadn’t all been for naught.

Suddenly something caught his eye – a mouse. It ran from one corner of the building to the next, then made a sweeping circle around Rev. John and finally came right up in front of him and stopped.

“Hi there, Johnny boy” the mouse said with a booming voice. Suddenly the old cliché “quiet as a church mouse” lost all of its meaning in Rev. John’s mind.

“Who are you?” Rev. John asked the mouse.

The mouse laughed heartily. “You mean you don’t know?” it asked.

“No,” Rev. John answered pensively. “Are you an angel of the Lord?”

The mouse laughed even harder, and then stopped suddenly. “Well,” it said, “I used to be.”

Rev. John gasped. The devil!

“Let’s cut right to the chase, Johnny” the devil mouse said, “you want a full house, and I want your soul. What do you say we do some bargaining?”

Rev. John gasped again. “You want me to sell my soul?” he asked incredulously.

“Well don’t sound so shocked,” the devil mouse said. “After all, it is what I do. Besides, think of all of the good you could do. I mean, come on Johnny – don’t be so selfish.”

All of his theological training and experience in the ministry had taught Rev. John never to listen to the devil. But now he actually had to stop and think. If he could win some souls, wouldn’t his own soul be a worthy sacrifice? Even Moses expressed a willingness to be judged in the place of others. And Jesus himself died in the place of sinners. Shouldn’t he be willing to do the same? But still, it was the devil he was talking to here, after all…

“OK,” said the devil mouse, sensing Rev. John’s consternation. “I can see that you’re a little conflicted here, so I’ll tell you what. You just go ahead and tell me what your conditions would be if you were to make a deal – no pressure to actually make one – and then we’ll just go from there, OK? And if we can’t agree on anything I’ll just go back to my mouse hole and you can go back to your pity party and that will be that.”

Rev. John thought about it some more. He knew the devil wasn’t trustworthy, but Lord willing, with some divine wisdom on his side, maybe he could get a good deal.

“Alright,” Rev. John said finally after a long, thoughtful pause. “I’ll tell you what my conditions would be and then maybe, just maybe we could make a deal.”

“OK,” said the devil mouse. “Let’s hear your conditions.”

“First of all,” Rev. John started, “I want a house full of fresh souls won from scratch. No pre-churched religious hypocrites.”

“Oh, come on!” the devil mouse cried out. “You want me to give up a bunch of souls for your one soul? How is that a good deal for me?”

“You said you wanted to hear my conditions,” Rev. John retorted. “That’s one of them.”

The devil mouse gritted his teeth. He had greater reasons to want the Reverend’s soul that Rev. John himself didn’t even know about. He didn’t want to divulge that fact but he didn’t want to lose this opportunity either.

“OK,” said the devil mouse. “We’ll just table that issue for the time being. What other conditions do you have?”

“Well,” Rev. John replied, “I have to take you to my mentor Rev. Bob, and you have to explain all of this to him. If he thinks it’s a good deal, then I’ll do it.”

The devil mouse shuddered with fear. The name of Rev. Bob was known in the portals of hell. He was known for being a Great Heavenly Warrior. Rev. Bob might cast him out of the mouse.

“Why do you have to take me to him?” the devil mouse asked insistently.

“He’s my mentor,” Rev. John replied. “I never make a major decision without seeking out his counsel.”

The devil mouse thought about it. “I can’t go to him,” he said finally. “He might cast me out of this little mouse body, and then where would I be?”

“Well,” said Rev. John, “Isn’t there some kind of spell that you could do that would bind you to the mouse so that you couldn’t be cast out? You know… just until our deal is done?”

The devil mouse grimaced. There was such a spell. But he would lose his devilish powers for as long as he was bound to the mouse. Only his power to speak would remain; in all other respects he would be just like any ordinary mouse. But this was, after all, a crucially important deal. If Rev. John knew how important it was, he wouldn’t even consider making this deal.

“Yes,” he said finally, “there is such a spell. But I’m going to make it so that as soon as our deal is sealed, I can come out of this mouse body on my own terms.”

“Fair enough,” replied Rev. John. And with that the devil mouse said an incantation, and became bound to the body of the mouse.

When Rev. John went to see Rev. Bob, he decided to say very little himself and let the devil mouse do all of the talking. The devil mouse made his pitch to Rev. Bob – first of all nervously explaining that he was bound to the body of the mouse and could not be cast out. Rev. Bob simply sat and listened to the whole thing. When the devil mouse was done with its pitch, Rev. John picked it up and put it back in his pocket.

“Please, brother,” Rev. Bob said with a concerned tone. “Please tell me that you’re not actually thinking about saying yes to this deal.”

Rev. John smiled. “Nah,” he said. “At this stage in my life and ministry, I’d rather have the talking mouse.”

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